Cristiano Ronaldo vowed to give Juventus its first Champions League trophy in 2019, a year since joining the Italian club from Real Madrid for a Serie A record $149 million.
He said – “I wanted a shift and fresh inspiration after winning what I won in Madrid. I have the stamina to keep winning. Juventus will come out on top in the Champions League. I’m not sure whether it’ll be this year or next, so it’ll happen.”
Juventus has not won the Champions League in the two years since making the promise and is on the verge of missing out on the title for the first time in a decade. And a large part of it is due to Ronaldo. Juve is still fifth in Serie A, one spot outside of the Champions League positions, and is depending on the teams above it dropping points in the final three games of the season if it is to advance.
In a tricky run-in, it also faces recently crowned champion Inter Milan, who prevented Juventus from securing the championship for the first time in ten years, and an in-form Sassuolo.
While head coach Andrea Pirlo has been chastised for Juventus’ bad season, more fingers have been pointed at Cristiano Ronaldo, and understandably so.
Mauro – ‘Cristiano Ronaldo is a great individualist’
Ex Bianconeri midfielder Massimo Mauro is one of those who have criticized the 36-year-old.
“Ronaldo has never been and will never be a leader where he has played,” Mauro said in April to Gazzetta Dello Sport.
“He treats the team like a company, and his attrition is more important to him than the team’s success. Cristiano never drags his teammates along with him; instead, he only needs them to pass the ball to him so he can score goals. He is a great individualist, not a team player. He is right.”
Juventus was a strong, well-drilled unit before Ronaldo arrived in Turin, relying on the efforts of many rather than the magic of individual superstars to deliver results.
Juventus had eight players scoring five or more goals in all competitions during the season before Ronaldo arrived from Real Madrid, and two – Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain – netted more than 20 goals.
Juve had seven players score five or more goals during the 2016/17 season, with Higuain (32) and Dybala (19) sharing the goal-scoring honors once again.
There has been a noticeable change in the team’s goal-scoring dynamic in the almost three seasons Ronaldo has been at the Allianz Arena.